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On November 1, 2006 former “pack a day smoker” Ray Zahab and two other runners set out on an epic expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. One hundred and eleven days and 7500 km after leaving the coast of Senegal they completed their journey stepping into the Red Sea. The epic expedition had the trio running an average of 70km’s a day, without a single day of rest. National Geographic tracked this epic expedition by web, and the documentary film ‘Running The Sahara’ - produced by Matt Damon, directed by Academy Award winner James Moll – was filmed in an effort to raise awareness for the drinking water crisis in Northern Africa. After witnessing and experiencing the water crisis in northern Africa, Ray decided to leverage his future adventures to raising awareness and funding for causes that he supports and believes in. Running The Sahara would begin a journey of discovery- of learning that some of the largest barriers to success are the ones we put upon ourselves. Breaking these down, we can truly achieve extraordinary things.
In 2007, Ray ran the three coastal trails of Canada, back to back and non-stop. The Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island, East Coast Trail Newfoundland and West Coast Trail in British Columbia.
Motivated by the Sahara run- Ray conceptualized the CanadaONExONE Run in May 2008. Along with a team of runners, Ray ran an average 80 km per day in each of Canada’s 13 Provinces and Territories in so many days. Schools were visited, students participated, and communities became engaged in many of the child based issues ONExONE is addressing. In Saskatoon alone, several thousand students and 27 schools were involved in school rallies and a city wide relay with Ray and the team.
Two years after touching the Red Sea, Ray, and two other Canadians, broke the world speed record for an unsupported expedition by a team to the South Pole, In the process, Ray trekked this traditional route from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole solely on foot and snowshoes- without the use of skis. Students and classrooms from all over North America joined the team as they trekked to the South Pole on a daily basis- communicating and actively taking part in an educational resource– becoming “team mates” of the expedition. This expedition was completed as part of Ray’s organization, impossible2Possible.
In 2008, Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P), an organization that aims to inspire and educate youth through adventure learning, and inclusion and participation in expeditions.
Ray is a proud member of the board of Directors of the Ryan’s Well Foundation, is the official Athletic Ambassador and a board member of the ONExONE organization, and is a representative of SpreadTheNet. Ray was the recipient of the ONExONE Difference Award in 2007, and the Torchbearers Award in 2010.
Throughout 2009 and 2010, expeditions have included: an unsupported 13 day run the length of frozen Lake Baikal, 3 Youth based expeditions to Baffin Island, Tunisia and the Amazon. All of these expeditions supported various initiatives through an Experiential Learning program in which thousands of students participated as active team members during the expeditions, from classrooms all over the world.
Ray has appeared multiple times in the media, including CNNi, The Hour, CBC, CTV, BBC, Jay Leno, Discovery, etc.
In addition to his running adventures, Ray speaks around the world at events such as TED, IOC World Conference, Idea City, The Economist World in 2010 and 2011, World Affairs Council and countless major corporate events- spreading the message that we are all capable of the extraordinary in our lives and that in fact, the impossible is possible.
In early 2011, Ray became the first person to run across the ‘driest desert on Earth”, the Atacama Desert in Chile. He ran 1200 km in 20 days- with minimal daily re-supply. Thousands of students observed the journey via live web and video conferencing.
- Gobi March Team 2006 — 1st
- Sahara Race 2005 — 1st
- Libyan Challenge 2006 — 1st
- BadWater Ultra — DNF
- Marathon des Sables 2005 — 24th
- Trans333 2004 — 3rd
- Jungle Marathon Solo 2004 — 8th
- Jungle Marathon Team 2004 — 1st
- Marathon des Sables 2004 — 47th
- Yukon Arctic Ultra 2004 — 1st
- Official website
- impossible2possible website
- Running the Sahara website
- Ray Zahab at the Internet Movie Database
- Ray Zahab at TED
- Works by or about Ray Zahab in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Ray Zahab interview
- Running for My Life: On the extreme road with adventure runner Ray Zahab, an autobiography (with free excerpt available)
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